Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ever Heard of the Gift of Tears?

There was a time when I was a young child, I attended a "Holy Roller" revival meeting at a park with the next door neighbors' family.  Their son was studying to be a pastor, and they invited me along.  I was being raised as a Baptist and this whole thing seemed pretty whacky to me.  At the end of the meeting, I was suddenly overcome with emotion and tears.  Sobbing mad wild tears.  One of the women who had been sitting next to me scooped me up into her ample bosom and held me close, exclaiming that all was well - it was the Holy Spirit who had come down upon me.  She comforted me until I was composed and then it was all over.

I never thought of it until decades later during a Bible study, when once again I was overcome with emotion.  Sister Cathy was doing a guided meditation with us. We were studying John 21:15-19. We were all gathered in a circle, and holding hands with the other students.  Sister begins her narrative.

She tells us to imagine we are sitting with Jesus and the other fishermen around the fire, on the banks of the Sea:  We've just finished eating, everyone is full and content.  We can hear the waves washing up on the shore, hear the sounds of the seagulls and the boats swaying, tied up nearby.  The smell of salt in the air is strong, as is the smoke from the fire.  Jesus turns to Simon Peter and asks "do you love me?"  Peter replies "yes Lord, you know I love you."  Jesus says "feed my lambs."  Jesus asks him again "do you love me?"  Peter again replies "yes, Lord, you know I do."  Jesus says "feed my lambs."  Once more, Jesus asks "do you love me." Simon Peter replies again, "Lord, you know all things, you know that I do."  Jesus says "feed my sheep."    I could swear I was transported away to the very spot, and that I was Simon Peter.  Tears well up within me and I begin to cry.  Why does Jesus keep asking me this?  Doesn't he believe me?   Tears are streaming down my face, and I have nothing to wipe them away with.  I feel like a fool, sniffing and wanting to shake lose of the woman's hand next to me so I can swipe at the tears before Sister ends the visualization.  I am so embarrassed!  Luckily for me, a few others were sniffing too, but none as clearly shaken as I was.  Everyone opens their eyes and looks around and here I sit, what a mess.  Sister winks and says "it's a Gift, be grateful."

I was glad when a book study leader finally told me about the Gifts, and I had the opportunity to research and understand what was going on.  She was the recipient of the Gift of Tongues, and had done much research herself.

Recently I was moved again, while reading someone else's blog.  I decided to research the Gift again, because it has been so many many years since I have felt this way, I thought perhaps the Holy Spirit had "taken it back".  It wasn't Him, it was me, who had gone by the wayside for awhile.  I even dared to compare myself to Mother Teresa, who spent all that time not hearing a word from God.  She continued on, and served Him with every fiber of her being, right until the end.  I wish I could say the same for me.  I stopped going to Mass, except for funeral Masses, since my husband Brian's funeral.  I tried a few times, but would sit at the rear of the church.  I would cry so much, that I knew everyone could hear me and they were probably wondering what on Earth was wrong with me.  Realistically, they would probably just feel empathy that I was in such pain, and wonder what might have caused it.  Being that close to Jesus was just too much for me, the emotion was uncontrollable, and I was embarrassed by it.

Today I see the Gift as a gift, and I welcome it.  Often, for it comes often.  It is renewing my faith and my hunger for more gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Come, O Creator Spirit blest, 
And in our souls take up Thy rest;
Come, with Thy grace and heavenly aid,
To fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

Great Comforter, to Thee we cry;
O highest gift of God most high,
O Fount of life, O Fire of love,
And sweet anointing from above!

The sacred sevenfold grace is Thine,
Dread finger of the hand divine;
The promise of the Father Thou,
Who dost the tongue with power endow.

Kindle our senses from above,
And make our hearts o’erflow with love;
With patience firm, and virtue high,
The weakness of our flesh supply.

Far from us drive the foe we dread,
And grant us Thy true peace instead;
So shall we not, with Thee for guide,
Turn from the path of life aside.

O may Thy grace on us bestow
The Father and the Son to know,
And evermore to hold confessed
Thyself of each the Spirit blest.

Blessings to all of you, my friends! 

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